Christopher Hayes is the winemaker at Bluff Dale Vineyards in Bluff Dale, Texas. Running the winery along with his parents David and Theresa Hayes, the winery earned our Texas Wine Lover Awards for Best View in 2012 back when we were giving the awards near the start of the website. Here is what Christopher said during the interview.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I was a wine director at Sigel’s Fine Wines.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
Being at the mercy of Mother Nature is the hardest and least controllable thing. But I feel that applies to almost any agricultural region. Trying to reach physiological ripeness and attain balance in the wines is the hardest thing.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
I’ve never considered myself an artist. It’s definitely a science to me…but one that you can take risks with. My father who used to make the wine often says, “winemaking and grape growing is a little science and a lot of art,” but I translate that as him saying to take responsible risks. The artist part is mainly an invention from the PR departments.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
I am a well-known shellfish addict, so I have to say either Muscadet or Champagne with oysters.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I have been in the alcoholic beverage industry for 22 years. It would have to be some form of alcoholic beverage educator or events planning.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
I have always been a critic of wines and theorized on how I could improve, experiment with, or change them. Winemaking is the living manifestation of that ideal. I’ve been with my parents’ winery for five years and have been making the wines for the last three to four years.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
How do the different flavors manifest themselves into the wine, i.e. blackberry, cocoa, mineral, etc.?
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
I go home to be with my wife and have a couple drinks.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
Working with the seemingly endless variables and the pride I feel when I have made one of those “it” wines I had always dreamed about as a wine merchant. It doesn’t happen often and the wines are never permanent. Sort of romantic, no?
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
Ultimately we try to have something for everyone that comes to visit us. I also keep in mind the hot Texas summers and try to make the whites refreshing. Our estate fruit will hopefully be a concentrated red and seems to be coming along nicely.